Classic Movies In the Classroom

  • May 13, 2017

Classic Movies_Classroom

Timeless cinema, like the kind featured on Turner Classic Movies, offers students a unique opportunity to “experience” history.

 

IT’S TRUE. Old movies are like time machines. They can transport us to a world that existed long ago—affording us an opportunity to both see and hear people who lived nearly a century before today’s students were even born.

And it’s a little bit humbling to consider that we, today, are the first people in history to have such an opportunity.

I was struck by that thought just recently while watching a movie from 1931. It depicted what was, at that time, the workaday world of New York City, yet now, some 86 years later, it read like a completely different culture. The people of 1931 certainly looked like us, but they spoke differently, dressed differently, and even interacted with one another differently. They seemed to place a high level of importance on things like courtesy and manners. And the most advanced technology on display was a radio!

In terms of years, I was as far removed from the people in that movie as they were from, say, people in the Old West, and yet I could watch them, listen to them, observe them in a way that they themselves could not possibly have observed their own predecessors. This allowed me a level of insight on the past that was never possible before motion pictures.

Imagine if filmmaking had existed in the ancient world, or during the Middle Ages. How much more personal would our understanding be of the folks who lived during those eras? Sure, thanks to the work of archaeologists and scholars we have period art, craft, and literature from which to glean insight, but we will never actually see those people who lived so long ago, much less hear them speak.

Thanks to movies, however, the people of 1931—their mannerisms, their norms—are well within reach, and observable. This got me to thinking about how a teacher might put classic cinema to use in a classroom.

Turner Classic Movies, channel 256 in your DIRECTV SCHOOL CHOICE channel package, is television’s premiere showcase for timeless cinema. The network screens films of every conceivable type dating back to the earliest days of the medium—drama, documentary, period pieces, comedy—all with something to offer those who are curious about how things used to be.

From the safety and comfort of your classroom you could send your students on a fact-finding mission to the early 20th century, to observe and make notes and then digest their findings as a group. What were people like in those days? How did they conduct themselves? In what ways were their lives like ours, and in what ways did they differ? The exercise can be expanded by having students discuss their observations with elderly people, to get context, and “eyewitness” corroboration of their findings.

The relevance of a project like this to history and social studies is obvious, but you might also consider its application to English, journalism, and creative writing.

Granted, your students might be disappointed to learn that the movie they’re going to watch is “old.” But tell them it’s a time machine and you might just capture their interest.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

Invite Your Students to Take the United States Citizenship Quiz

  • Nov 16, 2016

cq

If you’re a history or social studies teacher, you no doubt recognize the importance of incorporating  current events into your curricula whenever possible—as a way of illustrating a civics concept, perhaps, or to demonstrate how even long-ago events can have a direct impact on the present.

Our friends at History Classroom understand this, and over the years they have developed an impressive collection of study guides and classroom activities that can help you do these things effectively.

Take, for example, their Citizenship Quiz study guide.

With all the debate these days about citizenship, teachers have a perfect opportunity to help students consider not only the importance of this personal status, but the responsibilities that come along with it. On the History Classroom website you’ll find both the long and short versions of the actual quiz that aspiring Americans must pass in order to gain citizenship. Students can take this quiz for themselves, and then deepen their understanding by taking part in related classroom activities, which are outlined in the accompanying study guide.

The exercises touch on United States history, civics, and government, and are geared toward students in grades 5-12.

You’ll find both the quiz and the study guide on History Classroom’s website.

Check it out for yourself. And to help us keep you informed about other free educational resources and programs, please be sure to bookmark this site and follow us on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

 

classroom-logo-2-AB

An Amazing Opportunity for Students

  • Nov 01, 2016

StudentCam2017-Logo2

Each year at this time, we’re excited to announce the start of C-SPAN’s StudentCam short documentary competition, a unique opportunity for young filmmakers (grades 6-12) to influence the national conversation with a 5 to 7-minute film on an issue of sociopolitical importance.

And as an added incentive, C-SPAN will award cash prizes to 150 winning students and 53 teacher advisors!

This year’s theme:

“Your Message to Washington”
What is the most urgent issue for the new president and Congress to address in 2017?

Students may begin submitting videos on November 1, 2016. The submission deadline for all videos is January 20, 2017.

As we like to say in this space, the two things every student has these days are 1) a camera, and 2) an opinion. Let’s help them discover the opportunities available to them when they use those things constructively.

“The kids loved it. For them it was about creating memorable and engaging learning experiences,” says StudentCam participant Karen Rehder of Farragut Middle School in Knoxville, Tennessee. “We took the art of research and storytelling and applied them to 21st-century learning skills.”

In order to get a better idea of what’s expected, check out last year’s winning videos here. For additional information, visit C-SPAN’s StudentCam.

Good luck!

To receive more information about opportunities like this, be sure to bookmark this site and follow DIRECTV Goes to School on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

StudentCam2017Banner

A Great Way to Bring Current Events Into Your Classroom

  • May 11, 2016

eLECTION cONNECTION

This year’s presidential election has been unusual, to say the least, and no doubt it’s been a topic of conversation in your classrooms. And whether you and your students are studying current events or simply discussing them, there are available to you a host of channels and free resources that can help make any such engagement educational.

Today we bring you news of yet another terrific election resources from educational publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and our friends at HISTORY. HMH Election Connection is a free online resource billed as a “comprehensive, one-stop information hub for current and historical election coverage.” Geared toward students in grades 6 through 12, the site includes a wide range of materials, including daily news broadcasts, lesson plans, HISTORY videos, and readers.

There are also activities available, including guidelines for conducting a mock election, and one particularly interesting project designed to help students recognize propaganda.

Overall, HMH Election Connection is a solid resource with lots to offer the creative educator. Check out the website today. For additional election resources, visit HISTORY.

And to help us keep you informed about other great free educational programs and resources, bookmark this site and follow us on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

Image: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/HISTORY

An Historic Development

  • Apr 26, 2016

Tubman

With the recent announcement that abolitionist Harriet Tubman (right) will replace President Andrew Jackson on the face of our $20 bill comes a great educational opportunity comprising history, social studies, civil rights, and government studies—a teachable moment that springs from a little slice of history that’s unfolding right before our eyes, and, more to the point, right before the eyes of our students.

With that in mind, our friends at History Classroom have made available a free, downloadable study guide entitled Redesigning Our Nation’s Currency, a handy overview of the history and process of American currency redesign. Also included are suggested classroom activities and links for further study.

If you decide to investigate this resource you’ll no doubt quickly determine that it was created back when the only bill under consideration for redesign was the 10. Now we’re doing three bills, but the study guide certainly holds up as a tool for educators seeking to help students of all ages navigate this important story.

See for yourself on History Classroom’s website.

And to help us keep you informed about other great free educational programs and resources, be sure to bookmark this site and follow us on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

20 Front

Image credits:
Harriet Tubman: Ohio History Connection (OHC), dated circa 1887 by H.G. Smith, Studio Building, Boston.
$20 bill: Wikipedia; public domain

C-SPAN Is Election Central for Students and Teachers!

  • Mar 23, 2016

Campaign2016

The race for the White House is on, and C-SPAN Classroom has earned our endorsement for once again providing teachers with the best, most educational lesson plans, activities, and materials—including a 2016 Electoral College Map poster (pictured, below) available free-of-charge for registered C-SPAN Classroom members!

This large, beautiful graphic, which will look great in your classroom, is designed to facilitate educational discussion on a variety of topics relating to the 2016 election, and is suited to a wide range of grade levels. How you use it is up to you, but if you’re looking for ideas there is a collection of lesson plans and activities available at C-SPAN Classroom as well.

Sign-up and request your poster today. Registration is also free.

But wait, there’s more!

C-SPAN Classroom has also put together a wonderful collection of resources (developed by teachers) that cover all aspects of the election process, from candidates and campaign ads to polling, campaign financing, and debate—each topic supplemented with related video clips, discussion questions, handouts, and culminating activities to reinforce students’ learning.

Check it out for yourself. These resources are all free-of-charge, and available right now on the C-SPAN Classroom website.

And to help us keep you informed about other great free educational programs and resources, be sure to bookmark this site and follow us on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

2016ECMapLarge

The Results Are In!

  • Mar 16, 2016

studentcam

“With the presidential campaign in the forefront of people’s minds, we wanted to hear from students across the country about the issues that matter to them,” says Craig McAndrew, C-SPAN’s Manager of Education Relations.

And hear they did! Nearly 6,000 student filmmakers (in grades 6-8) took part in this year’s C-SPAN StudentCam documentary competition, creating 2,887 films based on the theme: “Road to the White House: What’s the issue YOU want candidates to discuss during the 2016 presidential election?”

As it turned out, the top three issues chosen by students this cycle had to do with the economy, equality, and education, and the films they created by which to express themselves were stellar even for this competition, which has been bringing out the best in student filmmakers since 2006. In all, 150 students and 53 teachers were awarded prizes. But it was 10th-grade student Olivia Hurd of Jenks, Oklahoma (below), who scored the year’s top spot with her thoroughly engaging documentary about the national debt, Up to Our Necks.

We congratulate Olivia, along with all of this year’s winning teachers and students!

Learn more about the competition and watch all the winning entries on the official StudentCam website.

And to learn about other great opportunities and free educational resources, be sure to bookmark this site and follow us on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

 necks

Apply Today for the C-SPAN 2016 Teacher Fellowship Program

  • Jan 25, 2016

twitter_cspan_icon

If you are a state certified middle or high school teacher (U.S. History, Civics, Government, or related curriculum) who uses C-SPAN resources in your classroom, you could find yourself in the nation’s capital this summer helping to shape education nationwide!

C-SPAN is seeking innovative educators for its 2016 Teacher Fellowship Program, which will take place over the course of four consecutive weeks this June-July at the network’s offices in Washing, DC.

Chosen Fellows will collaborate with the C-SPAN Education department to develop new teaching materials using the network’s vast library of resources, and participants will also be invited to brainstorm ideas with fellow teachers at a series of educator conferences.

And to seal the deal, each Fellow receives a stipend of $7,000 to cover housing, travel, and living expenses.

So, what are you doing this summer?

Registration is open until Friday, February 26, 2016. For more information visit C-SPAN Classroom.

And to find out about other great opportunities and free educational resources, be sure to bookmark this site and follow us on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

C-Span

War Stories

  • Jan 08, 2016

Capture

It’s nearly impossible for the uninitiated to fully appreciate what it’s like to be a soldier at war, and yet it’s really the duty of every American to at least try. After all, the personal sacrifices made by the members of our military, the harrowing experiences and losses endured by even those who return to us fully intact, are made on our behalf.

So with an eye toward understanding, we’re proud to help get the word out about History Channel’s Live to Tell, a new series that offers warriors who’ve served on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq the opportunity to share their personal experiences of war.

Relevant to current events, history and politics courses, the program is recommended for students in 10th grade and above.

Live to Tell premieres Sunday, January 10th at 10/9c on HISTORY (channel 269 in your DIRECTV SCHOOL CHOICE channel lineup). All episodes will also be available for streaming subsequent to airing.

You can watch the series trailer, below.

And for news about other great educational programs, bookmark this site and be sure to follow DIRECTV GOES TO SCHOOL on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

Campaigns in Your Classroom

  • Dec 08, 2015

Capturerwh

With the commencement of the Iowa Caucuses on February 1 the presidential election season will be officially underway, and your students can have a front-row seat for the entire process with DIRECTV.

If your school is among the thousands across America who have raised their hands to receive complimentary programming via our  DIRECTV Goes to School initiative, you and your students already enjoy full access to some of the very best election coverage available on television—including shows and study resources prepared specifically for education.

For example, there’s C-SPAN (DIRECTV channel 350), the highly-respected source for exhaustive and unvarnished coverage of public affairs. Live coverage of daily politics is their mainstay, and it’s backed-up by a dedicated Road to the White House 2016 web site that’s heavy on study materials and completely free-of-charge for teachers and students.

C-SPAN’s sister network, C-SPAN2 (ch. 351), is another great resource for daily public affairs coverage, and it’s also included in our DIRECTV School Choice lineup.

Other news channels in your DIRECTV lineup include Bloomberg Television (ch. 353), CNN (ch. 202) and CNN en Español (ch. 419), Fox News Channel (ch. 360), HLN (Ch. 204), and MSNBC (ch. 356)—all of which will be covering the campaigns.

And of special note this election season is CNN Student News, a ten-minute, commercial-free, daily news program designed for viewing in middle and high school classrooms. Produced by the journalists at CNN, and anchored by Carl Azuz (students love this guy), this award-winning show is new and timely each morning on the CNN Student News web site.

All in all that’s a lot of presidential campaign coverage, and it’s coming your way every day via DIRECTV School Choice. You can record shows for use in the classroom; download lesson plans to incorporate into existing curricula; or even come up with special projects for extra credit. How you “elect” to use all this great material it is up to you.

So start exploring!

And to learn about some of the other great benefits of DIRECTV School Choice, just bookmark this site for regular updates, and be sure to follow us on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio